The resumption of inter-state bus service made passengers throng bus depots to book their seats well in advance. But, much to their dismay, they had to shell out almost double the fare to get a booking done.
The state transport department on Friday intervened to provide relief to the travellers. Just ahead of the commencement of the inter-state bus services, they issued a set of guidelines on Friday, which makes it mandatory for the operators to keep the bus fare the same as it was before the lockdown.
State transport secretary K Ravi Kumar said, “The fares will remain unchanged as the buses have been allowed to run as per their full seating capacity. The vehicles are to ply on their assigned routes.”
He added, “Operators will have to ensure that all the prescribed Covid-19 safety guidelines are followed during the trip. Use of face masks, sanitization of the vehicle or seats after every trip is a must. Overcrowding is a strict no.”
Given the fact that most of the bus operators had doubled the bus fare for interstate travel, the guidelines issued made it clear that the fares shouldn’t be increased given the fact that they directed to run buses with full seating capacity.
“Financially, it will be difficult for any inter-state buses to run with half their capacity. As a consequence, the fares will be hiked, which in turn would force the passengers to pay hiked charges for tickets during the inter-state travel,” said an official.
Buses with valid permits will be allowed to ply on a fixed route. District administration officials will maintain a special vigil in their jurisdiction to block illegal commute attempts. Even the stoppages will be in accordance with the pre-approved permits.
With Diwali and Chhath festivals scheduled later this month, Bihar-bound buses will experience a passenger rush.
Now, the operators must keep a record of all the passengers to make tracing easier if anyone of them tests positive for Covid-19. The driver’s cabin needs to be covered with a curtain or a transparent sheet. During the journey, there is a complete ban on the usage of tobacco and spitting. All passengers are to be screened using a thermal scanner while boarding. Sanitisers are to be provided on the vehicle.
“Any kind of violation will amount to lead to the slapping of a case on the operator under the Disaster Management Act,” warned Kumar.